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Now Boarding: The Twitter Ad System Failboat

As usual, there’s plenty of hype surrounding a new ad system that’s being released: The Twitter Ad System.  Considering Twitter is such a popular website you would think i’d probably be excited about it.  Quite honestly, I’m not.  I think it’s going to be a failboat for affiliates and i’m going to tell you why.

My buddy Jonathan Volk just wrote a post about Twitters Ad System so rather then rewording the details of the system i’m going to grab his breakdown and make some comments.  Read his post here.

“As we previously described, the new system serves up ads based on keywords in Twitter search queries.”

Fail #1: I’m sure people do use  I even use it on rare occasion if I want to see what random people are saying about something.  The KEY word in the previous sentence is RARE though.  99% of my twitter use is either tweeting or looking at my lists and seeing what my friends are saying.  Considering a very large percent of twitter use is mobile as well, what is the percentage of the overall Twitter Population that is going to use Twitter Search?  My guess is that it’s low and that’s a straight up fail.  If this is the only way the advertising system is going to serve ads it’s actually kind of a joke because companies like Sponsored Tweets & will still thrive and be a MORE effective advertising method then Twitters own system.  Why would you let a parasite service take your revenue?  Makes no sense.

Promoted Tweets will appear at the top of the search results page, with small text indicating they were sponsored. The Times piece notes that companies could use this to combat negative tweets (they can place a positive tweet at the top of the page)

OK, I would expect disclosure.  If a company thinks that an ad at the top of the search results is going to combat negative tweets, that’s a company that just doesn’t get social media.  The only way to combat negativity in social media is to FIX THE PROBLEM.  In addition, most people trust their peers so if a peer they are following tweets negatively about a company, they are going to see it in their stream.  This ad would never reach their stream because again they aren’t using

A Promoted Tweet isn’t guaranteed to stay afloat for a long time — if the tweet isn’t tracking well in terms of replies, clicks, and a number of other metrics Twitter is calling “resonance”, it will be pulled, and the advertiser won’t pay for it.

Quality Score?  Uggghhh.  Go ahead and piss off your advertisers before they even start advertising with you.

One ad will be shown at a time

Wowzerz…I’m impressed.

Initial ad partners include Best Buy, Virgin America, Starbucks, and Bravo

This doesn’t surprise me at all.  My guess is that they went after these types of advertisers because they don’t really care about ROI.  By taking on “branding” (ie: immeasurable) advertisers they could avoid negative reviews like this one for a while.

Advertisers will be paying on a CPM basis initially, with plans to adjust the model once Twitter can better gauge how people are engaging with Promoted Tweets

No real comment here but branding campaigns do normally run CPM.


Facebook Ads were a huge win for affiliates and self serve advertisers.  We all know that although their ad approval team is recruited from the monkey cage at the San Diego Zoo, they do have an awesome advertising offering.  Let’s give some thought as to what makes it awesome.  It’s really a pretty simple answer: insane targeting.  You can target demographics, workplace as well as interests.  All of this targeting makes figuring out ways to appeal to these users gosh darn easy.  Facebook users SELF IDENTIFY themselves and that’s key.

This is the major problem with Twitter Ads.  Their is no self identification on Twitter.  This is what’s going to make it hard to ever have effective in-stream advertising run by Twitter.  You can argue that they will come up with some sophisticated algorithm that can detect themes in a persons overall tweets and serve ads to those themes but I don’t think it will work.  Let’s say I tweet 10 times and this is what I say.

1) I just started a new Facebook Campaign and all Ads were denied
2) I just took a massive dump and there was corn in it
3) The trees outside are blooming
4) My car smells like rotten milk
5) Check out this article
6) Weekend is almost here
7) Jersey Shore was hilarious last night
8 ) Class is not determined by what you spend
9) Just went to Ikea
10) My foot just fell off

It’s going to be very hard to create a theme out of random tweets and plenty of Twitter users tweet randomly.

What are your thoughts?  Do you think the Twitter Ad System (as it stands) is going to be effective?  Let’s discuss!

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Published inAd NetworksAffiliate Marketing


  1. Eugeniu Eugeniu

    They would better do keyword targeted tweets. Eg someone mentions in their tweet a {keyword} and a sponsored tweet targeted to that keyword is shown.

    Sponsored ads in search won’t bring enough $ so I see no other way but this for them. 2-5 ads per day I guess will be shown.

    And I agree category/theme targeting it’s not gonna work.

  2. Yup, can’t see how this is going to be successful for anyone other than brand advertisers with an endless supply of money to throw down a pit. It’s going to be tough for Affiliates to find a way to make money off of this one.

  3. Gregg_Sugerman Gregg_Sugerman

    1) Never eating corn again

    2) Never riding in your car

    3) re. QS- love it. They have streamlined the model. Let’s not lure advertisers in and eventually piss them off, let’s cut right to the chase and start pissing everyone off right out of the gate

  4. The whole twitter search results thing seems like second fiddle advertising to me.

    Unless they are going to include ads in the RSS/API search results too, then the ads will show on scraper sites all over the net.

    Possible ad matches for your tweet stream:

    Getting dumped on by Facebook? Have some delicious popcorn and milk.

    Take your car to the Jersey Shore this weekend, leave your class at home.

    Looking for a new foot stool? Ikea has those.

    Find massive dumps on eBay. Available with or without corn!

  5. Jonathan Jonathan

    Great post! I did read somewhere (will try to find it) that mentioned twitters ads being featured in search by keyword but also in the stream. I think it was techcrunch.

  6. >_ >_

    I think the best thing twitter could do is to add at least some kind of demographic gathering feature like a profile. If they can gather at least grab age, gender, location from users, they could easily make an extremely profitable system.

    Considering how long they’ve been willing to lose money without creating an ad system, I’m not hopeful.

  7. twittermethisbatman twittermethisbatman

    Agree. Failboat.

    Hustler, what are your thoughts about TweetUp?

  8. Tweeter is very useful. It is the simplest tool for super affiliate to drive huge traffic to their sites or blogs. I agree with you Admin (Ad Hustler). Thanks. Nice Post.

  9. Ad Hustler Ad Hustler

    Good comments here

  10. xentech xentech

    Being able to bid on advertisements on peoples twitter pages would be decent, you could certainly grab demographics/subjects that way.

  11. @Josh Todd i completely agree with him…need big pockets indeed.

  12. I agree that it’s pretty fail, and the first thing that came to mind with the only showing in twitter search results, is that if they somehow manage to syndicate that to people already established search partners. How this wouldn’t be a conflict of interest is beyond me, but it’s the only way it makes sense.

    Also, who uses the search stream other than people doing market research? You have people researching what people are saying about products, you have people searching info on events, and then what… celebrity gossip?

    Although, I’ve always been one to say twitter has time to figure out how to properly monetize the platform. Beings that it’s not just a social network, but a communications platform, there have to be better options.

  13. Ad Hustler Ad Hustler

    @Brandon – I agree with what you have to say. I think the Full Sail ad on your site is some awesome targeting.

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